Coronavirus Information & Court Updates

COVID-19 Court Information and Updates

COURT OPERATIONS UPDATE

August 3, 2022

En español

Chief Judge Charles Roberts issued Administrative Order 2022-08.2, the Court’s sixth amended Order on Health and Safety Protocols Regarding COVID-19. The newest AO, which goes into effect Monday, August 1, 2022, modifies and amends AO 2021-15f.2.

“For the past several months, each county within our circuit has experienced COVID-19 positivity rates between 10-20%,” the Order says.

Therefore, “to take steps to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the courts, its participants, and the public, while fulfilling the court system’s responsibilities for the administration of justice,” the new AO “highly encourages” courthouse visitors to wear face masks upon entering the courthouse or when they are in public areas. Anyone who wishes to wear a face mask but does not have his or her own mask, will have one provided upon request.

Also highly encouraged but not required is physical distancing in all courtrooms, hearing rooms, jury assembly and jury deliberation rooms where in-person proceedings occur.

Stay home if you are sick

Anyone who is sick or experiencing any of the following symptoms should not enter the courthouse:

  • A cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • New loss of taste of smell

Anyone with these symptoms should self-isolate and contact the Court about rescheduling. Most importantly, anyone who is testing positive for COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, is prohibited from entering a court facility.

Litigants, witnesses or jurors who are sick or positive for COVID-19 on a day they are required to be in the courthouse should contact the Court or Clerk’s Office about rescheduling.

Contact tracing

Anyone in the courthouse who develops COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 within 24 hours of being in the courthouse should contact Court Administration’s Human Resources Office so the Court may begin contact tracing. Be prepared to provide the following details:

  • Which building
  • Which floor
  • Which courtroom

You will also be asked for identifying information on anyone who was within six feet of you for at least 15 minutes while you were at the courthouse. This could include:

  • Your lawyer
  • An interpreter
  • Other jurors
  • A bailiff

The new AO encourages good hygiene protocols, including hand washing, hand sanitizing and covering coughs and sneezes. Visitors to court facilities will find hand-sanitizing stations on each floor and in all courtrooms.

To decrease the amount of people coming into court facilities, the new AO encourages presiding judges to use remote technology whenever possible, or for mass dockets use staggered start times which will more easily accommodate physical distancing.

Contact information

CONTACT TRACING

Court Administration Human Resources Department
941-749-3600, ext. 1791

RESCHEDULE COURT DATE DUE TO COVID-19
DeSoto County Court Administration
863-993-4644
DeSoto County Clerk of Court
863-993-4876
Manatee County Court Administration
941-749-3655
Manatee County Clerk of Court
941-749-1800
Sarasota County Court Administration
North & South County cases
941-861-7800
Sarasota County Clerk of Court
941-861-7400

Resources for Court Users

Best Practices: Technology in Court

EVICTION RESOURCES FOR RENTERS & LANDLORDS

Emergency aid for renters and landlords is available through Opportunities for Utilities and Rental Assistance (OUR) Florida Program is the state's federally funded emergency rental and utilities assistance relief program. OUR Florida provides renters who qualify, as well as landlords, relief on unpaid rent and utility bills and supports landlords and utilities with relief on lost revenue. There may also be local programs available to help. Visit the Florida Department of Children and Families Emergency Rental Assitance Program webpage for more information.


MORE ON FLORIDA COURTS & COVID-19

Administrative Orders Regarding COVID-19

Health and Safety Protocols

Face masks and social distancing are not required in court facilities but both are highly encouraged, according to the AO2022-08.2, effective August 1, 2022. If you wish to wear a face mask and do not have one, a mask will be provided upon request.


Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court Policy

Guardianship Training: Guardianship training offered by State College of Florida pursuant to F.S. 744.3145 may be offered online or by using remote technology.

Parenting Education Classes: The Twelfth Judicial Circuit will temporarily allow parties to attend parenting classes online or via videoconferencing without court approval.


Changes to Programs/Services
DeSoto County Courts: 

Legal time limits extended from close of business on Wednesday, July 15, 2020, until the close of business on Monday, August 3, 2020.

School visits: NEW! Virtual tours are now available. Visit our Public Information Office page for more details.
Pet Therapy Program:  Suspended until further notice
Self Help Center: Now open 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; closed for lunch 12 p.m.-1 p.m., Monday-Friday.

OLDER COVID-19 POSTS

 Please check back often as information changes frequently. The most current information can be found in the Court Operations Update section at the top of this page.


Florida’s Supreme Court issued an updated administrative order (AOSC21-17, Amendment 3) on January 8, 2022, modifying and/or extending its COVID-19 health and safety protocols for trial courts. This amendment authorizes Baker Act hearings to be heard remotely if the facility in which the individual is located is closed to hearing participants due to health and safety measures implemented by the facility for the pandemic.

All other provisions of AOSC21-17, Amendment 2 remain the same. Face masks, while no longer required to enter judicial centers, may still be worn by those wishing to wear one; also, if someone requests a face mask, one will be provided. Social distancing is no longer required in judicial centers; however, participants may request social distancing and the court will address the appropriateness under the circumstances at the time of the request.

To maximize space in courthouses for in-person hearings, the court has been authorized to conduct hearings using video or telephone conferencing when feasible unless the court finds the proceeding is inconsistent with the U.S. or Florida Constitution, a statute, court rule or court order. In that case, the hearing will proceed in person.


ARCHIVES

Read archived COVID-19 court information and updates from 2021 and 2020.